The Ultimate Garage Sale Bargainer

“I’ve learned that if you go to a garage sale, you’ll almost always buy at least one item you don’t need.” ~ Unknown, page 157, Live & Learn & Pass It On

Garage Sale season has officially opened in our area. Subdivision garage sale signs are popping up all over. You can’t drive anywhere without seeing some sort of advertisement on every street corner you pass.


For years I anxiously awaited this season and for years I’d bring home one thing I never thought I’d buy — or should buy for that matter. “One thing” might be a slight understatement, but it’s a good place to start.

My passion for garage saling began when I was a teenager. My father introduced me to this addictive social phenomenon while we ran errands on the weekends together. My father was ruthless. He never paid full-price for anything at a sale, believing that “garage sale” was synonymous with “make me an offer.” If something was marked $4.00, he’d offer $2.00, knowing full well he would probably get a counter offer of $3.00 and would be all too happy to pay it. Not every bargaining effort went smoothly, and sometimes he walked away empty-handed, but the rush he got from the experience was palpable and contagious.

For years every summer when garage sale season opened, my father and I would get together to traipse through subdivisions that advertised “This Weekend ONLY” sales. House after house we’d hit, picking up little things here and there, and occasionally finding something big we could not do without. Although these excursions were enjoyable for us, my mother was not so enthralled. She complained incessantly about each and every thing my father brought home — whether it was a good deal, something they really could use, or something my father just wanted. She claimed he was wasting his time and their money.  Still, the time I got to spend with my father during these trips was priceless.

As my father got older, my mother’s wrath against garage sale treasures took its toll and my father decided the battle was no longer worth the fight. Age has a funny way of changing people. Our summer expeditions came to an end as did the priceless father/daughter time we shared. I occasionally would stop at a garage sale by myself, look around aimlessly, then get back in my car and head home. The thrill was gone.

After several years of living firmly under my mother’s thumb, my father reached his breaking point and came to the realization that “he mattered” just as much as she did. He started stopping at garage sales again, picking up an occasional trinket that HE wanted. This opened the door I thought had closed forever and we once again embarked on our father/daughter garage sale expeditions.

This year in preparation for Garage Sale Season I decided to approach it from a different angle. I decided to make a list. As corny as that might sound, lists are something that really keep me in check. Going to the grocery store, shopping for Christmas presents, preparing for the next semester of Grace’s college, getting ready for a dinner party — all of these things begin for me with a list. So why not garage saling?

All winter I have made notes of little things I needed or wanted but didn’t want to pay full price for on the retail market. There are a few things on the list that have already been crossed off, because the need or want for them outweighed saving a few bucks, but for the most part, I had a pretty good idea of what to look for when the long-awaited Garage Sale Season opened.

Today my father and I spent an exhilarating morning driving through a huge subdivision garage sale, stopping at every house with an open door. Even if from the street it looked like all they had were baby toys and clothes, we knew from experience you just never know what treasures they might be hiding in the dark depths of their garage.

The very first sale we hit, my father found a brand new pressure canner still in the box, something on his Garage Sale List. My mother had thrown his out, claiming he didn’t need it. My father picked it up, opened the box, examined the contents and then looked at the price. It was marked $20. Although they go for much more in the stores, the “make me an offer” mind set lives on, so he offered the owner $10. She looked at the box, argued “It’s brand new, never been used,” then after some hesitation, countered with $15. — SOLD!

Time pushes on, changing people as it does. Sometimes however, people hold onto parts of themselves they need to, they want to, that they like the most. My father is a garage sale bargainer at heart, and no matter how hard anyone tries to change that, he prevails, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.


2 responses

    • Enjoying every minute. I’m on the lookout for another food dehydrater. One is just not enough — it takes me too long to finish projects. So far no luck, but it’s early in the season.

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